After Reporters without Borders released the Press Freedom Index nearly two months ago, Doctors without Borders has released a report on the top ten humanitarian crises of 2009, in which Pakistan is listed for the second consecutive year – no prizes for guessing why. However, although we may know the causes, one effect highlighted by Medecins Sans Frontieres hasn’t made the news so far:
It turns out MSF has done an excellent job in supporting the IDP relief effort, and they’ve published several stories that drive home the misery of the war refugees. The trauma undergone by those who have had to abandon their lives in the wake of extremism is not something that the Pakistani media has talked much about: then again, we know they’re not exactly the best in the world. We talk about people losing their minds, but to read about their experiences in this way is…powerful.
Fighting between Taliban factions and the government during the spring in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province displaced 2.1 million people, according to official figures. As warfare intensified in 2009, curfews, roadblocks, and fierce fighting blocked humanitarian aid. This only exacerbated an already desperate situation for sick and injured civilians. MSF provided extensive aid in the displaced persons’ camp in Mardan, northwest of the capital, Islamabad. To help meet the profound needs of the larger group of displaced- those who stayed with host families or in makeshift shelters-MSF distributed supplies, in some cases assisting households sheltering 50 people to a room. In Mardan, Peshawar, and Lower Dir, MSF helped strained hospitals cope with war injuries and large patient loads. The entire MSF community was devastated in February when two medical staff members, Riaz Ahmad and Nasar Ali, were killed in the Swat Valley as the clearly marked MSF ambulance they rode in came under fire during an emergency response.